We can all learn from Kuwait’s beautiful reaction to destruction
Through social media, Kuwaitis have ensured that ISIS receives their message loud and clear: ISIS has failed to divide Kuwait
The deadly suicide bomb attack at a mosque in Kuwait City yesterday was a cowardly act that took the lives of innocent civilians. The act was carried out in one of the holiest situations: during the holy month of Ramadan, during group Friday prayers, and the bomb was reportedly detonated while those praying were in the ‘sujood’ position, the closest Muslims believe they can be to God. Sadly, the crime was carried out at a Shiite mosque, but the reaction of the Kuwaiti public has been beautiful, and has evolved through several stages of grief.
This is not the first time that ISIS has attempted to dig through sectarian divide by specifically targeting Shiite Muslims. This act is similar to attacks carried out in Saudi Arabia in May.
These stages were spearheaded by a group of online bloggers and social media enthusiasts who used their online status to keep the country calm, yet another testament of the power of social media in civil society
Stage 1: Casting blame on the killers, not the sect
Social media personalities with hundreds of thousands of followers initiated Kuwait’s online reaction by trying to promote calm and reminding the public who the true perpetrators of the crime were: ISIS, and not a collective sect. Online socialites used images to urge the public, Sunnis and Shiites, to unite against the enemy mutual: ISIS. These images were shared by the likes of Fouz Al-Fahad, a makeup artist with over 650,000 followers.
Acknowledging sectarian differences exist is important, however, realizing that it is merely a difference in interpretations of history, rather than a ‘divide’, is key to maintaining a healthy and respectful society. That is exactly how social media reacted – it wasn’t in denial and didn’t avoid discussions on sectarianism, rather agreed it exists but together, society can build a crossover bridge to unite the country.
Stage 2: Collective mobilization
The Kuwait Central Blood Bank has struggled for blood donations for years. On Friday, the blood bank had to turn people away after a public call for blood donations on various social media outlets had thousands of people show up.
From the pictures, it is clear that the people who showed up were from all walks of life, an image that is truly inspirational.
Through social media, Kuwaitis have ensured that ISIS receives their message loud and clear: ISIS has failed to divide KuwaitYara al-Wazir
Stage 3: Showing ISIS that they have failed
ISIS may have taken the lives of 26 people (so far), and injured over two hundred, but it has failed at dividing Shiites and Sunnis in Kuwait.
In a beautiful video, shared by Shuaib Rashed, an online show host with over 430 thousand followers on Instagram, Sunni and Shiite Muslims stood side-by-side during the Maghrib (sunset) prayers. Through social media, Kuwaitis have ensured that ISIS receives their message loud and clear: ISIS has failed to divide Kuwait.
Stage 4: Solidarity with the world
Perhaps he most humbling and beautiful act by those in Kuwait, and in fact social media personalities from the region, is not forgetting what other countries are going through, even as Kuwait is reeling.
Solidarity and support for the people of Tunisia and France were also shared. Perhaps the best description to sum all four stages of recovery was described in an image by nutritionist and social personality Ahmad Al-Saleh which read: “You will not divide us, you will unite us.”
Kuwait has shown incredible strength and resilience and this situation will forever serve as an inspiring model for public reactions to crises.
Yara al Wazir is a humanitarian activist. She is the founder of The Green Initiative ME and a developing partner of Sharek Stories. She can be followed and contacted on twitter @YaraWazir